UNC's Hatchell to be enshrined in basketball Hall Sunday

Sep. 07, 2013 @ 09:14 PM

Looking up at the walls of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday, North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell could see the plaques of the people who have already been enshrined.

“This is the next best thing to heaven,” Hatchell said. “And as I look up and see all the pictures of all these people in the Basketball Hall of Fame, I say they’re all basketball angels, because to me, they are. They’re people I’ve looked up to all my life and my coaching career.”

Hatchell will join that group this afternoon, when she and the other 11 inductees are enshrined during a 2 p.m. ceremony that will be televised by NBA TV.

“Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be able to check this off the top of my bucket list,” Hatchell said during a press conference Saturday. “For a basketball person like me, this is unbelievable.”

Hatchell will be presented by Hall of Famers Hubie Brown and Nancy Lieberman after Pat Summitt had to decline because of her health.

Hatchell is one of three Division I women’s basketball coaches with 900 wins and is the only coach with national championships at three different levels (AIAW, NAIA and NCAA). She won the 1994 NCAA title with UNC, where she has coached since 1986.

Coaches Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian and Guy Lewis and players Gary Payton, Dawn Staley and Bernard King are among the other inductees who will honored today alongside Hatchell.

“You certainly can’t take away any of the championships. But for a career there is nothing any better,” Hatchell said. “I was humbled to even be nominated, but when I got the phone call I had made it I was like, ‘Wow.’

“Every morning still to this day I wake up and think, ‘am I really going into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame?’ because this is what every coach dreams of.”